ETIQA, the insurance and takaful business of Malaysia’s Maybank, is looking to bring its takaful insurance services in the Philippines if Islamic banks can provide solid distribution reach, its top official said.

In a media roundtable yesterday in Makati City, Chris Eng Poh Yoon, chief strategy officer of Etiqa Insurance and Takaful in Malaysia, said they are “taking a look” at the possible takaful market in the Philippines as well as Islamic banks that will give them “distribution access” to the Muslim population in the country.

Takaful is a type of Islamic insurance where members contribute a certain sum of money in a common pool.

Mr. Eng said that they distribute takaful insurance services and products through banks and takaful agency force in Malaysia.

“We’re taking a look at the takaful market here in the Philippines… We don’t have a takaful agency force right now in the Philippines but what we can easily grow in this business is if the regulations are in place, and if there is an Islamic bank that has been set up for distribution access to the Muslim population. Then we can easily just plug in our system to that bank,” he said

“We need that bank to make that first step because they have the distribution reach then we will follow through,” he added.

Currently, Al-Amanah Islamic Investment Bank of the Philippines provided under RA 6848, or the “Charter of the Al-Amanah Islamic Bank of the Philippines of 1990,” is the only bank in the Philippines authorized to offer Islamic banking services.

However, Mr. Eng said that Al-Amanah’s reach as of now is still “small” and needs to be scaled up first before they can deliver their products.

“We’ve seen their reach, I think the reach is a little bit small, at this point of time. We are open for discussion but I think there needs to be scaling up there before we can easily deliver the products,” he said.

“Takaful concept is risk and profit sharing. If you don’t make a claim, you actually get a profit share on whatever premium you have invested over the year,” he explained.

Meanwhile, Etiqa Executive Vice President in Strategic Division Diana Mohamad said that they are looking to launch their policies covering critical illnesses in the Philippines by the first quarter of 2020.

Mr. Eng said that the 68 critical illnesses such as cancer, stroke, high blood pressure and kidney failure, will be included.

He also said they are still studying on the inclusion of mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder and major depression, in the coverage of critical illnesses.

Mr. Eng said that they are looking to bring automated processes here in the Philippines, which are already being implemented in its offices in Malaysia and Vietnam.

He said Etiqa’s artificial intelligence also allow for faster assessment and claims while reducing the turnaround time of their operations at the same time.

Etiqa is a member of the Maybank Group that offers life and general conventional insurance policies. It made its presence in the country, known as Etiqa Philippines, through Maybank branches and through online platform. — BML